This week began with the publishing of a podcast with a difference – Mother of Invention – featuring the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins, in ‘this uplifting new podcast, celebrating amazing women doing remarkable things in pursuit of climate justice.’ Featuring in the first episode are also Tessa Khan, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Climate Litigation Network, Director of Netherlands-based Urgenda Marjan Minnesma, and young people like Kelsey Juliana, Victoria Barrett, and Ridhima Pandey, who suing their respective governments in USA and India to protect their futures.
These persons (women and non-gender conforming identities) came together to share their stories on what inspired them to take a bigger step in making governments listen to why climate justice is a human rights issue. Here’s the new wave of ‘personal is political’ and strategic feminism!
Environmental issues have long been polarized as matters of science and development, while the grassroots have only been at the receiving end of the crisis created by the failures of governments and experts. Despite 26 years of international diplomacy around climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it was only in the last few years that most of the development agencies including UN recognized the human rights implications of the failure to address climate change. While most developing countries claim to do their part through powerful legislation around wildlife and environment protection, sobering accounts from people like Prerna Singh Bindra (“The Vanishing“) show that it is not less than disastrous.
The communities in developing, least developed, small island nations, and African countries struggle with the everyday reality of climate crisis that results in loss of lands and ecosystem-based livelihoods. The links between capitalism in its neo-liberal, ‘profit for few’ trends and the ongoing crisis has been researched and established (regardless of what the heartless Heartlander denialists say). Historic responsibilities of developed countries and the fossil fuel corporations are still lacking the accountability and commitment required to respond to the crisis created by their thoughtless pursuit of ‘advancement’. Today more women and local communities are challenging this unjust system across the world, often paying a heavy price with their lives.
What can be done then?
Climate crisis is an environmental and human rights issue. To address it, we need to get to the roots of the systems that are long outdated and no longer have trickle-down economic benefits. The current system favors the rich and leaves behind the poor and marginalized. This belief of ‘survival of the fittest’ does not fit in with the collective empathy and conscience of socially-conscious people. We need a radical ecological democracy, that puts people over profits and functions for the collective commons, diversity and inter-connectivity of life to ensure decent living condition for everyone. After all, what sort of world would we like to leave for the future generation?
Given the current status of governance in the country, is taking the legal course the only way left for the common people(‘aam admi’) who want to bring change? This is a call to our young lawyers, activists, and dreamers to come together and ask the difficult questions that parliamentarians have often ignored. The judiciary still is our important democratic tool to hold governments and corporations accountable for their (in)actions that cause conflicts and crisis. Taking inspiration from this wave of lawsuits around the world, this could be our chance to begin again.